From ‘never forget’ to ‘sensitive content’: Baylor University gives trigger warning for 9/11 remembrance display on campus

Baylor University administrators found it necessary to add a trigger warning to an annual September 11 memorial that is displayed on campus each year, suggesting that remembrance of the 2001 attacks is no longer a unifying cause.

The prestigious Christian university in Texas placed signs saying “Please be advised: sensitive content,” near the memorial, which features 2,977 small American flags lining Baylor’s Fountain Mall walkway to honor the people who were killed in the terror attacks.

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“These signs amount to nothing short of a trigger warning for an event that should unite all Americans,” said Baylor’s Young Conservatives of Texas student club, which sets up the memorial each year.

The club demanded Friday that the university formally apologize. “This is incredibly saddening for us to see,” the group said. “9/11 is a day that we can forget our political identities and come together to remember those who died and celebrate the triumph of our nation over evil.”

The university issued a statement Friday night saying it apologizes for “any misunderstanding” its decision may have caused. But the trigger warning was just what it appeared to be. Baylor said that realizing the “wide range of emotions” that could be evoked by the flag display, signs were placed nearby to notify passers-by of its “potential impact.” Such warnings are now considered for outdoor displays under rules that went into effect last year “based on feedback from our campus community,” the administration added.

One observer on Twitter said the university’s response showed that it was trying to warn people away from an evocative display when the purpose of the memorial was to compel students to confront the emotions it evokes. Others agreed, saying September 11 should evoke “sensitive” memories. “The apology is almost as bad as the signs,” one netizen tweeted.

Another critic suggested Baylor is no longer a great university because of its attempts at political correctness: “Christian in name only these days. Repent.” One Twitter commenter said the warning signs are problematic because they “reflect the notion that the university empathizes with those who might find the American flag offensive.”

The incident marks another example of how divided Americans have become since the 2016 presidential election.

The September 11 attacks spurred a wave of bipartisanship and led to the rallying cry, “Never forget.” The 9/11 memorial service in New York was altered this year to exclude live readings of the victims’ names by family members as a precaution to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The city’s “Tribute in Lights,” which beams lights high into the sky from Ground Zero, also was canceled because of the pandemic, but a private group stepped in to provide the display.

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